It seemed almost inevitable.
Every once in a while, a player comes along that changes the game forever and becomes the undisputed, unified-belt, bona fide champion. And the bar gets raised.
Basketball had its Michael Jordan. Golf had its Jack Nicklaus. Boxing had its Rocky Marciano. And the hot dog world has its Superdawg, the winner of Chicago Now’s Golden Weenie for the Best Chicago Style Hot Dog of 2016.
Superdawg does not lack confidence, mind you. Perched outside the flagship stand at the corner of Milwaukee and Devon Avenue, Superdawg is a muscle-bound, winking champ, clad in a leopard-skin wrestling tunic. He’s doing a classic biceps flex. His red eyes wink in perpetuity. Beside him is his demure partner, in a simple, 50’s-style blue skirt, fingers gathered shyly in front of her.
These are the stand-up representations of the late Maurie Berman, who started the joint in 1948 and whom we lost last year, and Flaurie Berman, his wife of what would have been 70 years this year. Flaurie is still involved in the business, with son Scott Berman, his daughter Laura who helps run the Wheeling location, and son-in-law Don Drucker.
What makes it the best? Scott Berman has some ideas. “It’s a proprietary recipe which makes it unique,” he said. “It’s pure beef, it spends a little more time in the smokehouse and it has a few more spices than you’d typically find, including garlic – plus it’s bigger.” How much bigger? It’s right between a quarter-pound and the average 1/8-pound dog at 1/6 of a pound. If you’ve ever had a 7-11 Big Bite, you know that it’s too big (and too untasty) a hot dog – and reads like a huge bologna on a stale bun. The 1/6-pound size is just right.
You don’t want your dog to get lost in its bun, and you don’t want a behemoth, either. You want a Superdawg. Many have sung its praises. In the dining room, newspaper columns and clippings and articles are plentiful on a wraparound shelf above the stools. Even Mike Royko, fabled Chicago newspaper royalty, has weighed in. It’s an impressive display and testament to this Chicago treasure.
The Superdawg is “formally dressed” in golden mustard, tangy relish, a kosher dill pickle, chopped Spanish onions and a pickled green tomato pepper instead of a sport pepper. The pepper is unusual and fantastic. The menu calls it “memorable.” It is. And the kitschy red box that get delivered to your car window by carhops (where else can you still get THAT service?) declares that “YOUR SUPERDAWG LOUNGES INSIDE, CONTENTEDLY CUSHIONED IN SUPERFRIES.”
The Superfries are excellent – golden brown and crunchy crinkle-cuts that are soft on the inside and seasoned perfectly. At $5.79 for a Superdawg with Superfries, it’s at the higher end than what we typically pay for a dog. But it’s well worth it.
It’s the best hot dog in Chicago.
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